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Any dogs on my list of places to eat?

Wife, sister, and I are visiting NY mid-August for the first time. I hope to prevent possible disappointments by previewing my selections here. I would be very grateful for chowhound opinions on any or all of my choices and for further suggestions.

Cost is a consideration (cheap to moderate) but location and time sometimes more so (I’m especially worried about spending my vacation “on line”). Staying in Chelsea, so my breakfast picks are nearby. We aren’t adventurous but appreciate a little variety and could be convinced to try the unusual. Would like a true (not touristy) NY experience (for example, I would go to John’s on Bleeker over the TS location). Prefer casual over upscale but again could be swayed. Here’s my list so far...

Day 1: Shack Shack (need quick bite before show so thought we could avoid lines at 4 pm.)
Day 2: Empire Diner, Edison Hotel, Trattoria Trecoloi Inc, and perhaps Russian Vodka Room for some late night appetizers (in area of MoMA)
Day 3: Sarabeth’s Bakery, Grimaldi’s, Molly’s Pub & Shebeen (Brooklyn then Yankee game)
Day 4: Murray’s Bagels, Westville, Tartine (Greenwich Village)
Day 5: La Bergamote, Great NY Noodletown, Rocking Horse Cafe (downtown then Chelsea)

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  1. empire diner is just a plain diner in my book...if i were you, go a bit upscale and check out cookshop for drinks and dinner...great place for a meal.

    russian vodka room is fun enough...not the best meal ever but a good time nonetheless.

    sarabeths...not my thing...a bit touristy no? try barney greengrass which at least is a great place for smoked fish and bagels.

    westville and tartine are great west village spots and very neighborhoody but they are extremely small and have no reservations. i personally think neither have food id go out of my way for so instead ill steer you to perilla on jones street, blue ribbon bakery on bedford, or ino on bedford.

    instead of rocking horse, check out red cat or cookshop if you stick with empire.

    5 Replies
    1. re: sam1

      These sound like great spots and they look like they are up my alley. I knew about the Red Cat but time is a factor that night and the Rocking Horse is very close to our hotel. Had heard of none of the rest and Blue Ribbon Bakery looks so good. We live in northern Canada and a diner is so cool to us (I know "touristy" but I guess I yam what I yam) and the Empire looks like its right out of the movies so I couldn't resist. Can't thank you enough for the input and I'll post my final decisions closer to departure date.

      1. re: Andrew Largeman

        I'll second Sam1's rec for Barney Greengrass - we usually get things and take them home for a late breakfast - the salmon is really wonderful. His (?) recs for Perilla, Blue Ribbon and 'Ino are also good ones.

        1. re: MMRuth

          I'll throw in a vote for Greengrass - fab smoked salmon and very nice whitefish salad as well. If you're not about lines I would avoid that place on the weekend as it can sometimes be packed. Also be prepared for the dated (albeit in a charming sort of way) decor.
          Again if you're committed to Grimaldi's, you might want to try going at non peak times as that too often can have a wait.
          Blue Ribbon Bakery is great. If you're in the mood I would also recommend Blue Ribbon Sushi . . . their prices are reasonable for the quality and you don't have to go all out there to get a nice sampling of their fish, esp with three people sharing a few things.
          I actually enjoy Rocking Horse as a neighborhood place. The food is hit or miss but they do some very nice margaritas and it's a nice place to chill out and have a drink before going out.

        2. re: Andrew Largeman

          It's not so much that Empire Diner is touristy, but the food isn't good at all. I'd say walk by and look at the outside if diners are your thing, but eat elsewhere. Then again, if you're going for breakfast, I don't suppose they can ruin a cup of coffee and some toast.

      2. I don't know if you would have to ask on Outer Boroughs, but I would consider Grimaldi's somewhat of a dog. Definitely touristy. Lucali on Henry street (opens at 6, call if you are not getting there when it opens so they can put your name on the list and call you when a table opens up) and DiFara in Midwood are much better. Sorry if this starts a typical pizza posting war.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Olive123

          Wow, from the boards etc. its amazing to me how pizza is such a hot topic. I can hardly wait to dig into one. I'm sorta committed to Grimaldi's for a lot of small reasons and up til now thought it was a top ten spot but if it doesn't meet expectations I am definitely not leaving NY without trying others. Di Fara is too far for me but while surfing I came across a site claiming "Manhattan has its Di Fara" at a new place called Artichoke. Anyone been there? Is it true?

          1. re: Andrew Largeman

            There are a couple of threads on Artichoke - or at least one - search title:Artichoke. Sounds great though, from what I've read.

            1. re: MMRuth

              It's good but tiny - i.e., standing room for 5-6 people only. It's not where I'd go for the quintessential NY pie.

              1. re: kathryn

                artichoke is insanely good...its just a joint with no seats but their pizza is worth going to. im not a fan of grimaldis but a walk across the brooklyn bridge is nice if the weather cooperates. consider getting a croissant and latte at almondine on water street just a short stroll away.

                id skip blue ribbon sushi personally. i think its overpriced for the quality. if yr looking for sushi, try ushi wakamura on houston.

        2. Edison Hotel? You don't mean that Rum House bar of theirs do you?
          That's the most depressing 600 square feet of space in all of New York City.

          5 Replies
          1. re: il Trifulau

            I meant Edison Cafe. I've read quite a few comments on line about their matza (?) ball soup sounded interesting and different (to us) and we'll probably be at MoMA and wasn't interested in some of the alternatives (La Bon Soupe sounds good but too expensive for us for a lunch, Burger Joint no because we're doing the burger thing already at Shack Shack, Mandoo Bar and Bouchon Bakery sound interesting but "on line" time again). From what I've read on line, the Edison seemed like a place a local might go. No?

            1. re: Andrew Largeman

              I'd go to the 2nd Ave. Deli for good matzoh ball soup. The Edison is just ok at best.

              1. re: michele cindy

                Tried to find 2nd Av Deli but there are a few of them. Where exactly?

                1. re: Andrew Largeman

                  They were on 2nd @ 10th but relocated to:
                  162 E 33rd St, Btwn Lexington & 3rd Ave

          2. Logistics question: Brooklyn then the Yankee game? If you're going mass transit, that's a schlep (a pain in the butt trip). Try doing something in Manhattan then go up to the Bronx; shorter trip. Do Brooklyn at a different time.

            And... maybe a trip to Katz's Deli on Houston for some sandwiches (pastrami/rye/mustard) to take out to the Yankee game. I think it's the same train all the way up to the stadi-yum. yum. yum.

            8 Replies
            1. re: woodburner

              OK, I confess. I am probably gong to be the ultimate tourist who gets hit by a taxi while staring up at the scapers. We are thinking of catching a guided tour of Brooklyn and Grimaldi's is a part of it. I've already booked a Yankee game for that day so while your suggestion makes absolute perfect sense, if we're going to see anything of Brooklyn it'll likely be by taking that tour and I would like to say I at least saw Coney Island. I knew about Katz's of course, but it always seems kinda awkward to get to relative to what we're doing. Also I've already booked a ferry ride to the game. Man the p sandwich and train sound great though, so thanks maybe next time.

              1. re: Andrew Largeman

                A ferry ride to the game?? This is getting stranger and stranger! Lived in NY area for 50 yrs... not sure I know about that ferry to Yankee Stadium. Coney Island in Bklyn... way south. Yankees... way north. I am worried. Tell us more about getting from south to north, so we can make sure this is not some nefarious scheme being perpetrated on you!!!

                1. re: woodburner

                  The Brooklyn tour is during the day and returns us to Union Sq. then we go to near the South St Seaport to catch "the Yankee Clipper" offered by NY Waterway for a night game. I'm from a village not even enough people to make a town, so thought the ferry would solve a lot of issues for us. Like I wanted to take a ferry ride anyway and with this we get the day view and night view of Manhattan and thought it might be a bit of a tailgate party to the game, the map of the NY subways looks like a plate of multi-coloured spaghetti to me so not really confident about that yet, didn't know how bad the crowds would be on the trains, didn't know what the Bronx would be like. I'm looking forward to the game and the water tour but I'm not 100% on spending a whole very valuable to me day in Brooklyn. Worried we might just end up spending chunks of time in traffic, etc. so while it sounds like fun, not quite sure about that yet.

                  1. re: Andrew Largeman

                    The Yankee Clipper! You learn something new everyday.

                    I wouldn't worry too much about Grimaldi's. You're right that pizza is one of the most debated topics here. But I've taken a lot of tourists to Grimaldi who loved the whole experience. The views of the Manhattan skyline are beautiful from there.

                    I haven't been to the Russian Vodka Room, but Yakitori Totto is near MOMA. They specialize in skewered foods (everything from chicken thighs to kobe beef tongue). There are also a lot of small plates that you can share.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      Thanks for the reassurance about Grimaldi's. It sure looks good on youtube. I'll check into Yakitori Totto - thanks for the tip.

                      1. re: Andrew Largeman

                        Yeah, I think Grimaldi's is a good choice. It's probably not the very best pizza in NYC, but it sure is a cool location, and the food is quite good. Everyone loves getting to see the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty all in one view.

                        Good for you for going to Brooklyn on your trip. It's really cool, and I think a lot of tourists don't make it enough of a priority.

                        1. re: alysonlaurel

                          I'm sure we're going to be wowed by it all including Brooklyn. Just wish we had more time. Plan on walking back to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge which we are really looking forward to. Little worried about the heat in mid-August though. We're used to much cooler temps up north.

                    2. re: Andrew Largeman

                      Wow. The Yankee Clipper. Sounds good, Andrew. Have a great time.

              2. Your day 3 sounds exhausting without a car involved. Even if you pull off the physicality of it, you're talking about a lot of food.

                If you mean the Sarabeth's in Chelsea Market, then it might be fine for a danish. Otherwise, Sarabeth's is uptown, and probably not worth the mileage. It's good, but there's better options for breakfast/brunch in the downtown area.

                I would suggest Tartine for Breakfast/Lunch instead.

                I'd also skip Murray's bagels...they're not tasting much different then a chain called Pick-a-Bagel these days. They used to be amazing, but they don't even resemble a Murray's bagel anymore. I mean, it wouldn't hurt to pop in, and they're good for what they are, but it's not the best in the city or anything.

                By the way, the Shake Shack is a good cheap bite, but the quality control is all over the place. It is fast food. Just thought to warn you, since the way people talk about it can be deceiving. If you were to say, go somewhere else more convenient, it's not like you would be missing out on the best burger known to man or anything.

                14 Replies
                1. re: sugartoof

                  It's 5 days but I secretly suspect my timetable and eats probably aren't realistic but will give us a target. I've had too many bad experiences on holidays walking endlessly in an unknown place not really knowing what the group is looking for. Boards like this are a great way to find out what real people think though, so thanks for the heads up. Picked Sarabeth's in the market because it sounded like somewhere that would appeal to the women I'm with whereas the Empire Diner is more for me. I will say that breakfast spots that were "special" were hard to find on the net. Shake Shack is for a quick bite and we will have just arrived so I know we'll be so excited that we won't be able to sit inside. Maybe I'll rethink Murray's. My wife does want to try a good bagel though, preferably toasted.

                  1. re: Andrew Largeman

                    Would you consider the brunch at Primitivo within your budget? (Served Saturday and Sunday)
                    http://www.primitivorestaurant.com/

                    1. re: idia

                      Yes and that's a great location for us. However my original intent was to vary the 5 day menus a bit; French, Mexican, Russian, Irish, Cantonese. It would be very easy for us to overdo Italian as its usually in our budget range and we all like it. I"m pretty confident about Trattoria Trecolori as even hounds seem to approve. Must admit I'm tempted with Primitivo though. Could you tell me more? Would you recommend the prix-fixe options?

                    2. re: Andrew Largeman

                      I agree with the rest, for your bagel fix go to Barney Greengrass and eat your bagel the way it should be eaten, with smoked fish.

                      1. re: michele cindy

                        Do you happen to know where they get their bagels from? Pretty much the only time I eat a bagel is when I get smoked fish from them.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Sorry, I don't know, but they might tell ll you if you asked.

                          1. re: michele cindy

                            Thanks - I'll ask next time - didn't see anything on their website.

                        2. re: michele cindy

                          This is probably going to sound like a touristy question but isn't it a little awkward to get to? Katz's seemed the same. Smoked fish sounds odd to me too. Tell me more as so many hounds seem to think this is the way to go. Thanks, I'm really learning lots with your reply and all the others too.

                          1. re: Andrew Largeman

                            Smoked fish - amazing kinds of lox - the Nova is my favorite. Also smoked sable fish. It's a relatively quick cab ride on a Sat or Sun morning (cash only btw), or I think the 1/2/9 would get you pretty close.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Just to clarify, Barney Greengrass is at 541 Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street--sort of a hike from the 2/3 (express trains, stops at 72 and 96), easy to get to from the 1 train or the B/C. I'm pretty sure the 9 train is no longer with us.

                              Katz's is right near the F train, and not far from the J/M/Z. And there are so many other wonderful eats in that area--il laboratorio di gelato, the pickle guys, donut plant, Russ and Daughter's and many many more.

                              1. re: rose water

                                Thanks for clarifying that - I always forget that about the 9 and your Lower East Side suggestions are great ones.

                              2. re: MMRuth

                                Thanks. I know this is another touristy thing but I keep forgetting how easy and comparatively inexpensive cab riding in Manhattan reportedly is. Where I live a very very short cab ride costs nearly $20.

                              3. re: Andrew Largeman

                                Murray's is a fine place for a bagel and pretty much the best option in Chelsea. They do not toast the bagels though. There is a new bagel place on 8th ave b/t 23/24? I don't remember the name, but the line is much shorter and the seating is better - and they toast.

                                You may want to consider 2nd Ave deli instead of Katz's if distance/time is a issue.

                            2. re: Andrew Largeman

                              Well if you're staying in Chelsea, and you're going to the Sarabeth's in the Market, then no harm done! You can also whip through all the other shops, and grab a danish or something. Not a terrible idea after all. There are a number of places nearby in the meat packing district as well. Murrays for bagels is fine if you're in the neighborhood, and the toasting is a good idea. I love Empire Diner years ago... haven't been back, so maybe it's turned lousy.

                              You're not hitting on the all stars which normally get suggested here, even for cheap eats so that might be throwing some people...but that's okay!

                          2. for Day 4 in the village, westville is always a good, cheap choice. but tartine is nothing special in my opinion (although it seems europeans like it, and the byob policy is nice).

                            i'd check out the one block that is cornelia street (b/t west 4th st. and bleecker st.) instead. i don't think of it as touristy, but it's a very charming block that has a lot of restaurants, some of them great. pearl oyster bar, po, home. and afterwards you can walk down bleecker street for a true village experience.

                            someone mentioned perilla, which is definitely yummy, but i remember spending a decent amount of money there.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jen223

                              Actually the byob is what attracted me to Tartines originally then I actually saw it on a movie we just happened to rent called "Trust The Man" which I took as a sign. The movie was just okay though so I still might reconsider Tartine given all the other super suggestions I'm getting for the village. Thanks.

                            2. That ferry goes right by my window on the East River. Enjoy!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Gelaine

                                I'll be sure and wave. I'm quite sure you'll be able to recognize us by the smiles on our faces and/or open mouths. Thanks.

                              2. Looks like this is a dead post now which is just as well since we have now been and returned but I felt obligated to report back to all the hounds that were so generous with their submissions.

                                Firstly though, what a great and friendly place. Our visit was incredible! The problem was though that there were so many things to see and do that of course there just wasn't ever enough time! On one day we quite literally were too busy to stop for a real meal until 2:30 in the morning but oh, what fun we had. We did go to the Shake Shack which was a neat experience and my wife absolutely loved it, especially standing on line in the park. Fun but I myself would have chosen to do otherwise. The Empire Diner was straight forward as far as food goes but absolutely cool to go to. By far out best meal and best all round experience was Trattoria Trecolori Inc which was absolutely unbelievable for us. Reasonably priced, impressive service and nice decor. We poked our noses into the Russian Vodka Room but never had time to give it a try but will if we ever go again. Sarabeth's was a superb breakfast treat. John's, Grimaldi's, and Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn all had pizzas that were out of this world and different too. Can't name a favorite because its the apples to oranges thing, but NYers are blessed to have the best pizza I have every tasted in my whole life. Would not repeat the NY Noodletown for the food's sake but the experience was a lot of fun. Sat with a local Chinese couple who were very friendly and helpful. Tried to get lunch at the Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle but it was closed. On our last day we ordered some Murray's bagels to go then ate them on the train ride which was a mistake in a way because my wife and I cannot even call the things they sell here bagels anymore. They are simply not the same thing. Loved ordering them even. We call the round things with a hole in it here smigels now but we can't eat them anymore because we now know what a real bagel is supposed to taste like. If we are ever lucky enough to return perhaps we won't need to have such a full agenda and we can dine a little more. Hope so because I'm sure so many of your suggestions would have been memorable. Friends of ours are now coming to us with questions and I am passing on your recommends to them. Thanks again to everyone.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Andrew Largeman

                                  Andrew- Your update is not lost on deaf ears. Even as a NY'er, I enjoyed reading this thread and got a couple ideas for myself as well as visitors coming in Nov. Glad you enjoyed your trip so much. I was also impressed with the homework you did even before contacting the Hounders. You must have spent hours researching but sounds like it paid off. Hope you can come back again and thanks for spreading nice words to the other villagers.